Pem Bird, President Maori Party – Report to Hui a Tau
Pem Bird, President Maori Party – Report to Hui a Tau 29 October 2011
This year has been a truly remarkable year for the Māori Party. We have withstood an initial six month onslaught of sustained pressure, extreme challenge and high anxiety that was potentially destabilizing and ruinous for us. Intense media interest presented its own challenges. Huge public scrutiny was brought to bear on us as media whetted the appetite of the masses.
But we the Maori Party hung tough as we faced up to some of the most contentious and controversial issues in our short life. A shrewdly orchestrated campaign of unrelenting destructive and misleading criticism over the issues in question did not derail nor deflect us. We made the difficult but right calls. The issues were dealt to, our way, consistent with our kawa and tikanga around kaupapa tuku iho.
So Hone has departed and is on his own waka. Haere ra Hone. Hei kona rā Mana. The Marine Coastal Bill is now law. It is a piece of legislation we the Maori Party can be proud of. The anger and rancour of a vociferous group in opposition to the Bill whilst intense and fierce was never going to move us. The Maori Party had made a promise. We were duty bound to honour it. When we needed strong assertive and resolute leadership we got it. It got us over the line. Whaea, e Pita ka mihi. Kia ora.
The fact that Tauhuia Bruce Mataki is our Maori Party candidate for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate speaks volumes for the veracity of the decisions taken, in respect to our constitution and the selection process of candidates therein. The tiaki of Gaylene Nepia and Natasha Kendall was quite extraordinary and the steadfastness of Bruce himself a lesson in self belief and fortitude. The ruling by the High Court in April in favour of the Maori Party although not altogether surprising did give us an emotional up at a time when we needed one.
These trials and tribulations may have tested and stretched our puna of faith, loyalty and belief, but we have overcome. We have grown a steelier resolve and a stauncher resoluteness. We are Māori Party HARDER because of the adversity we have endured and not in spite of.
A month out from the elections we the Maori Party are in good shape. Crucial to our strength and effectiveness are our branches, the rock on which the Maori Party is built. They are the ringa raupa, the flaxroots who do the business on the ground. We have 50 branches, more than at any other time in our history! With strong branches, electorates and National Council itself are able to function effectively. Tena koutou branches mā!
Significantly Tai Tokerau have resurrected themselves. They are back with a vengeance with five branches and growing. The emergence of Waihoroi Shortland as our Maori Party candidate has been a big fillip for their morale. The bi-election a rough experience is but a distant memory. Hoki mai nau mai Te Tai Tokerau.
Our seven Maori Party electorates have provided quality tiaki and tautoko for our MPs and new candidates. Delegates to National Council from electorates have been faithful servants of their people. National Council has been well and loyally served by them.
I have a vivid recollection of each of the Maori Party National Council hui held during the year. What was quite special about these hui is that despite the duress we were under we remained on task. We kept the bigger picture uppermost in mind of planning and preparing for the general elections under Ken Mair’s astute stewardship. We maintained our composure all the way through. Our hui have generally been upbeat enjoyable affairs, huge on wairua, whanaungatanga kotahitanga and manaakitanga.
National Council ka nui te mihi. I wish to acknowledge your coolness and courage under fire, your dedication to the cause and your support of myself and your two co-vice presidents Te Orohi Paul and Ken Mair during the course of the year.
The Disciplinary Disputes Committee capably led by Te Orohi during the complaint process acquitted themselves extremely well on our behalf. The eyes and the ears of the nation were glued to them for what must have seemed an eternity to them. Te Orohi koutou ko o hoa tae atu ki a koe e te kuia whakaruruhau Te Aotuhirangi ka nui te mihi, Tena Koutou.
In terms of financial resources we have all heard from Parehuia Aratema our scrupulously honest, careful and caring Maori Party treasurer, whose report tells us that we’re not flush. But we have sufficient to get by as we have always done. We don’t do monitanga, but we’re lethal on manaakitanga. E hoa mā, it’s the same old same old! Up with the hands and in with the hearts!
Where the rubber meets the road, in the house and at the table what can I say. The results speak for themselves. We have results that at an emotional level give us a sense of immense satisfaction, and pride that we can indeed do it. The Maori Party are making a difference for our people. The gains have been revolutionary.
Whanau Ora, Whare Oranga ake and Tataiako for example will transform existing conventional mainstream structures and culture that have never worked for us to one that mirrors who we are and consequently will be an appropriate fit for us. These are models of emancipation, models that derive from our tikanga and indeed from our own world view. We the Maori Party are bound to succeed.
In fact all our Maori Party gains are emancipatory in outcome reflective of hearts and minds that are in the right place, of supreme dedication and sheer force of will. Ka mihi Mema Paremata mā tae atu ki te Uepu Whānui Tena Koutou.
The tino rangatiratanga flag will be absorbed as a natural part of our identity as a nation. In a year or two we will wonder what all the fuss was about.
The Environment Protection Authority is an authentic expression of Te Tiriti o Waitangi consistent with our role of Kaitiaki and our status as tangata whenua.
The Constitutional Review I believe will provide the blue print for a parliamentary system that will authenticate Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the mauri of that system.
The Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights, symbolic for now but a few years down the track will begin to take effect in ways that are not deemed possible at present.
There are many other wins which when considered collectively with the few I’ve mentioned spell a convincing and compelling case for the Maori Party to be at the table.
Against the reality of a such a magnificent track record of tangible achievements that represent quantum leaps forward for Māori, the allegations from our detractors that we have sold out and are lap dogs are precisely that, baseless allegations. But perception is everything in politics. Our reality versus their perception is the battleground we need to command and win. We the Maori Party must become excellent at telling the truth about ourselves.
The Maori Party accomplishments are a massive weapon in our arsenal. We should be a shoo in at the elections on the basis of performance alone. Last time round and the time before that we were in the opposition camp so to speak. We became expert rock throwers as Te Ururoa says it, nothing to show for it except a lot of words in Hansards.
The other perception that has gathered momentum is that we the Maori Party are no longer the independent voice, the authentic Māori voice because of the good life with the National Party.
Here are the facts that give the lie to this
On Bills before the House this year we the Maori Party have voted the same way with;
the United Future Party on 77 bills : 58%,
the Labour Party 75 bills : 57%,
the National Party 67 bills : 50%,
the Green Party 64 bills ; 48%,
And Act 59 bills : 40%.
Hardly a picture of marital bliss!!
The Maori Party’s vehement opposition to a number of National’s bills and policies have been well publicized. E.g. removal of GST from healthy foods vigorously promoted by Rahui Katene and since copied by others out there. The Maori Party’s well reasoned and argued stance against the recent Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill capably led by Te Ururoa is a current example of Maori Party singlemindedness, consistency and principle.
The call for a review of the justice system in its entirety is a necessary call but the courage to say so is another thing altogether. We the Maori Party don’t lack courage ne Pita. Again, with this reality, we should be able to put false perceptions to the sword. And if we are to do the damage in a months time we must do so on the back of the reality of our results and the clear message that what matters most are results.
There is no doubt that we the Maori Party face our sternest test yet. Most commentators and pollsters are saying victory for us in just three seats. I say that four should be a worst case scenario but that all seven are possible if we utilize our strengths to the absolute optimum.
The Rangatiratanga element in the Maori Party at all levels from branch through to electorate and council is simply amazing. That leadership will step up. At parliamentary level rangatiratanga is nothing short of phenomenal. The Maori Party results and success can be traced back to Tariana’s and Pita’s leadership. Individually each is dynamic and charismatic. Together as a single entity they are unstoppable. They are a personification of inspiration itself. I would go so far as to suggest that Pita and Tariana are the most effective Māori leaders in politics since Tā Apirana Ngata against whom all Māori politicians still measure themselves.
They are complemented by a hardworking and dedicated pair of high achievers in their own right Te Ururoa and Rahui. There is no reserve bench. They are it! They are the on the field of play 24/7. What a team!
The Maori Party have a compelling gameplan. It is based on policy that is authentic, relevant and transformational. Policy will be communicated in a way that will manaaki the voter, in a language and style respectful of their need for information that is simple and clear. Shortly we will hear examples of such policy.
The Maori Party have quality candidates in abundance. They ooze talent. They ooze potential. They ooze the X factor. Our electorate candidates are well known to us and are up for the task ahead. The enormousness of the challenge is not lost on them, neither is the enormity of ‘what if’.
Our electorate campaign is complemented by a dream list team whom we will meet soon. We the Maori Party have an exciting blend of rangatahi the new face of the here and now and our more senior complement who will take us to a new place in our quest for the party vote. Let’s crack it!
Finally our core business as a party is to ensure we have a critical mass of MPs in parliament carrying out our Maori Party agenda. In a nutshell this is all about us having to win elections. With our capability and capacity borne out of our triumphant experiences in the 2005 and 2008 General Elections our track record of compelling performance and achievement as a Coalition partner and above all our dynamic leadership and people power, we can rise to the occasion. Aotearoa Whanui can be ours. Let Saturday November 26 General Election be our Maori Party day.
E aku rangatira te Paati Maori, mā Manaakitanga terā i te tuatahi, penā kai reira hoki a Whanaungatanga, a Kaitiakitanga, ka eke a Kotahitanga, katahi ka ea, ka ea. Mā pono ka manawanui, ka ū, ka toa tatou, te Paati Maori.
Noho ora mai
Nāku noa nā,
President Maori Party